Week 18: 2017 Session in Review
What's the hap at the cap? Legislative updates from April 27 - May 11
By Susan Baughman, Policy and Research Intern
May 11, 2017
After seven weeks of debate and discussion, Colorado’s 2017 legislative session ended yesterday, May 10th. These past 120 days have been eventful for Colorado Youth Matter, as there were quite a few bills introduced that involved youth sexual health. The 71st Colorado General Assembly brought both shortfalls and victories. In reflecting on both, we remain hopeful for the future of youth sexual health in Colorado.
There are a number of progressive bills that continue to be introduced and killed year after year, and 2017 proved to be no different. House Bill 17-1001, “Parental Involvement K-12 Education Act,” House Bill 17-1122, “Gender Identification on Birth Certificates,” and House Bill 17-1156, “Prohibits Conversion Therapy Mental Health Provider,” were all bills that have been proposed in several sessions now and once again got rejected. All three bills would have been beneficial for youth in Colorado.
Other bills that would have created a more just society, especially concerning health, also did not pass. House Bill 17-1127, “Exempt Feminine Hygiene Products From Sales Tax,” and House Bill 17-1307, “Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program Wage Replacement,” were both postponed indefinitely. Even though it’s disappointing that these bills did not advance, we are confident that Colorado will continue to progress, and that these issues will come up again in future legislative sessions.
CYM also celebrated many exciting victories. Legislators fought long and hard for reproductive health in this year’s General Assembly. Several anti-choice bills were struck down, including House Bill 17-1108, “Protecting Human Life at Conception,” House Bill 17-1085, “Women’s Health Protection Act,” and House Bill 17-1086, “Abortion Pill Reversal Information Act.” This was a critical point in the session as the House sent a firm message to Colorado citizens that bills in opposition to reproductive freedom will not be passed. Coinciding with this reproductive victory, Representative Salazar (D-Adams) and Representative Herod (D- Denver) passed the resolution, “Reproductive Health Care Access,” reassuring Coloradans that the Democratic-controlled House was, and is, dedicated to preserving access to safe and legal abortion and contraception.
Another monumental policy triumph for youth sexual health occurred with the passage of progressive sexting laws. House Bill 17-1302 “Juvenile Sexting Crime,” recently passed both the House and the Senate and is waiting for Governor Hickenlooper’s signature. This bill is huge for youth sexual health. Consensual sexting will be treated as a civil infraction, rather than a felony. CYM firmly believes that consensual sexting is a natural part of sexual development, so while we didn’t want to see any form of criminalization of consensual sexting, this is a huge step in the right direction.
Senate Resolution 17-001, “Reduce Age Qualification For General Assembly,” is yet another policy that CYM views as a great success. This resolution passed both chambers of Congress. Once the Governor signs Senate Resolution 17-001, voters will get to decide if Colorado should lower the age requirement for individuals to run for the House or Senate from 25 to 21. We are confident that this will encourage more youth to get involved in the legislative process and equalize the representation of Colorado’s wants and needs concerning youth health.
That’s it for this session’s Hap at the Cap, and although there will be no more legislation introduced in Colorado until January of 2018, there is still a lot happening at the Federal level. So if you want to stay involved, contact Senator Cory Gardner and Senator Michael Bennet. You can find your representative’s contact information here.
This session was exciting, and even though there were defeats, youth health experienced several victories. We are confident that Colorado will continue to move in the right direction, and we are eager to see what the 72nd Colorado General Assembly has in store.